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South Dublin Union

Cathal Brugha was vice-commandant of the 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade; Eamonn Ceannt being commandant. Cathal led his men into the South Dublin Union (now St. James's Hospital) on Easter Monday to the strains of "The Soldiers' Song". From then until Thursday midnight he was always to the forefront, always warning others never to be incautious. Often at midnight — however gentle his approach — he startled a sentry; and, when challenged he quietly answered with a smile: "Ta go maith — All's well." He seemed to appreciate the advice of the latest recruit and thus his humility and valour infused a new spirit into them all. He opened the day with public prayers and ended it with the Rosary.

Early on Thursday, Comdt. Ceannt decided to consolidate the garrison. He had just parted with Cathal when the enemy launched an attack on the position with machine-guns, bombs and hand-grenades. After many hours of undaunted fighting he was most seriously wounded. At that juncture a mistaken order to retreat was passed along and was acted upon. Cathal, prostrate from his wounds was overlooked in the excitement and the din, yet, he challenged the enemy again and again: "Advance, you craven cowards, so that I can get a shot at you!" A scout brought the incredible news that the vice-commandant — who was believed to be dead — was singing and still fighting. 

Commandant Ceannt, at the head of his men, found Cathal resting against a wall, his pistol to his shoulder. He was moved to the back of the building. By 7.00 p. m. the flow of blood was checked but it was late into the night before his twenty-five wounds were dressed. The bullets and bombs had pressed his clothing through the wounds to the bone. By Friday's dawn he was raving and in the very shadow of death until borne to the Union Infirmary under the direction of a Carmelite Brother. Of his twenty-five wounds, five had cut through arteries and nine others were very serious.

Such was the end of his fighting then. After the general surrender he was taken prisoner to the Castle Hospital, pronounced incurable and ultimately released — a poor shadow of the all-round athlete he once had been